Guinea pigs love food! Even if your a new guinea pig owner, you will be able to spot their love of food right from the beginning! It can be rather daunting trying to research all the safe foods that your guinea pig can eat. In this article we answer the most common question emailed over to us: What vegetables can guinea pigs eat?
Guinea pig feeding basics
Before diving into the vegetable food lists, its useful to ensure you are already familiar with the basic dietary needs of your guinea pigs. A guinea pigs diet should consist of unlimited Hay, grass, dry pellets, green stuff and unlimited water.
The hay should ideally be grass hay, hay is the best way for your guinea pigs to wear their teeth down and keep their digestive systems running smoothly. Since guinea pigs love to roll, chew, sleep and play in their hay it can get rather dirty! Guinea pigs refuse to eat soiled hay so we like to provide cheaper hay for lying and playing in, and the more expensive Timothy Grass Hay for them to eat. Placing the hay into hay racks or fun containers is great for keeping it off the floor.
Outside piggies have plenty of grass available so this one isn’t really an issue. If you (like us) keep your guinea pigs indoors then keeping an area of your lawn overgrown and cutting some each day with scissors is a great way to keep your indoor guinea pig their grass fix!
Dry pellets are required to provide balanced nutrition but be sure you are using pellets intending for guinea pigs and not rabbits. Rabbits have different nutritional needs and so are not suitable for your guinea pigs. Ensure you do your research on their pellets as some are too high in calcium and can lead to kidney and bladder stones. We have used these ones for all our adult guinea pigs and we have never had a problem.
We have an entire section dedicated to what to feed your guinea pigs if you need some more information!
Getting their veg on
Guinea pigs love vegetables which is good news for us owners as they provide your guinea pig with essential minerals, vitamins and are also great for wearing down a guinea pigs ever-growing teeth!
It’s important to remember that not all vegetables are safe to be eaten by guinea pigs and even some of those that are shouldn’t be fed to them every day. It can sound really complicated but it really isn’t that difficult.
Guinea pigs require a variety of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) to keep them healthy and happy. The main one Vitamin C. Guinea pigs are unable to naturally make this vitamin and so they need to obtain it daily in order to stay healthy.
Guinea pigs require around 25 – 30mg of vitamin C daily but this isn’t actually that difficult to achieve. Avoid dried guinea pigs pellets that are enriched with vitamin C, but vets recommend against this as it is then possible to give your guinea pig too much of it.
Mix it up
It can be easy to feed your guinea pig the same vegetables every day but this will mean your guinea pigs will get bored. A bored guinea pig can get depressed or lose its appetite so it really is important to mix it up as often as possible.
If you live in a household that eats plenty of fresh vegetables then sharing this out with your guinea pig is easy. If you don’t tend to eat alot of fresh veg then more thought is required to what you are going to feed your guinea pig and ensuring it gets good variety.
How much veg should they eat?
Whilst vegetables are really healthy, it’s still important to monitor portion size. The recommended amount is to provide each guinea pig with a matched box size portion of vegetables. This guidance can still be hard to visualise so we use the cup method – Each guinea pig can have one cup of vegetables a day.
How you split this up is up to you. We prefer to feed our guinea pigs three times a day as they always get twitchy when they know we are eating our meals so it stops them from feeling left out! Our guinea pigs have vegetables for breakfast and dinner. They have pellets for lunch.
Since we are feeding three times a day (you may chose to feed only twice, especially if you are at work during the day or likely to forget) we give them 1/2 a cup of vegetables each twice a day. If you are only feeding once then one cup each is fine.
The daily plate
Here at The Happy Guinea Pig, we created the daily plate so its easy to see what your guinea pigs need from their portion of vegetables each day. Each veg provides different nutrients and minerals plus herbs play an important role too. You can read more about it here but the general idea is:
- 1 vegetable high in vitamin C
- One herb rich in minerals
- One mineral and Vitamin C rich vegetable
- Other green stuff
What vegetables are safe?
- Peppers any colour – 1 Slice
- Celery – 1 – 2 slices
- Cucumber – 1 slice
- Coriander – 1 – 2 springs
- Green Beans – 1 bean
- Gem Lettuce – 1 leaf
Two to four times a week
- Collard Greens
We have created the Guinea Pig Feeding Guide so you can print it out and stick it to your fridge!
All guinea pigs are very cautious when new food is introduced to their diet. The best way to start mixing up new vegetables into their diet is to start slowly and let them get familiar with it before it completely replaces a vegetable they are used to.
We usually introduce new vegetables at playtime so they view it as a treat. Our guinea pigs can then take their time sniffing it and giving it a thorough check over before attempting a little nibble!
If you have a guinea pig that is particularly fussy when it comes to food then it’s a great idea to make new foods fun. Hiding vegetables in their favourite hiding place is a fun but effective way of getting them to take that first bite. There are also specially designed treat holder that make your guinea pig tap into their foraging instincts to hunt down the hidden vegetable.
An important point to remember is that guinea pigs need access to fresh water all the time. A guinea pig that is dying of dehydration won’t drink dirty water so ensure your guinea pigs water bowl is cleaned and refreshed regularly. Bottles are an easy way to keep their water clean. Ensure you check the metal drinking spout is in working order every time you change their water.
We change our guinea pigs water every mealtime. This ensures we don’t forget and mean our piggies always have access to freshwater. Guinea pigs drink the most out of all other rodents!
Choosing the right vegetables for your guinea pigs is easy when you know how plus it’s a great way to mix up their food and make it more interesting. What’s your guinea pigs favourite vegetable? Comment below.